Yesterday during a devastating loss to the Seattle Seahawks, the Eagles suffered a separate loss when Brandon Brooks exited the game due to illness that did not allow him to return. The illness forced Matt Pryor to make his NFL debut by taking Brooks' spot at right guard. The whole right side of the offensive line was dismantled when Halapoulivaati Vaitai also had to come into the game when Andre Dillard (who was in for Lane Johnson) was benched.
The offensive line play was mediocre, which paired with a disaster of a game from Carson Wentz led to an overall terrible performance from the Eagles offense.
After the game, it was reported that Brooks' illness was actually an anxiety issue that Brooks previously had to deal with.
In 2016, the anxiety problems caused him to miss two games, as just before warm-ups he suffered panic attacks. This time the attack started well before the game, but he tried to play through it. It eventually started up early in the game too and was just too much to overcome. Brooks took to Twitter this morning to bravely explain everything that happened to him on Sunday:
Now if you never had a panic attack before, it feels like you're drowning and you cant keep your head above water. Your heart begins to race so fast you can hear it. You cant' breath -- no matter how hard you try your lungs won't will up with air. Sometimes they can last for minutes or sometimes even up to a few hours, but after they are done they wipe you out completely like you're dehydrated. In my opinion, it's the worst thing I've ever dealt with so I respect Brooks for not letting this keep him from doing what he loves.
Part of why they occur is when you feel overwhelmed, there is no just "manning up" and forcing yourself to get through it. The fact that rookie tackle Andre Dillard performed so horribly in his first-ever playing time at right tackle after never feeling confident in himself certainly did not help Brooks' anxiety at all. So with Dillard playing horribly, that meant that Brooks would have to do the work of two men to help protect the quarterback, which obviously made him overwhelmed.
To the fans who are worried about how this will continue to affect Brooks (who recently signed a four-year, $56.2 million extension with the Eagles that has made him the highest-paid guard in the league), I can tell you that anxiety never really goes away, you just learn ways to deal with it. Thankfully he has only missed three games in four years with the team with this issue, and Lane Johnson has a lot to due with Brooks being able to keep his anxiety levels low.
So to the fans out there who have never dealt with anxiety themselves, please give Brooks a break. He has played at an All-Pro level this season (even coming off an achilles tear), proving why he is the best guard in the league. My thoughts are with Brooks and all we can hope for is his well being at this point.